When It’s a Jar, by Tom Holt

I received a free copy of this book to review from NetGalley, on behalf of the publisher. 

17899387When It’s a Jar continues the demented but entertaining story begun in Doughnut. Using highly inexplicable technology, Theo Bernstein not only made it possible to travel across the multiverse, but also created the multiverse in the first place in that book. Theo’s multiverse has a few problems. For one thing, no one’s really figured out the rules yet, not even Theo. Another genius, Maurice Katz, has managed to trap the creator in a jar in the laboratory of his multi-billion pound corporation. In another universe, Maurice Katz (the underachiever version) is sent on a hapless quest to free Theo.

The Maurice Katz we come to know has been seeing various personifications of the Fates, Duty, Fun, and two different Fisher Kings. But he can’t make sense of their warnings and advice because he couldn’t be farther from the hero they all seem to think he is. Even after he slays a hydra that appeared in his bedroom, Maurice still can’t accept the fact that he’s an actual Hero. If anyone would the hero, he thinks, it would be his friend Stephanie, who joined the Army and enjoys blowing things up. But Stephanie disappears after the incident with the hydra, inspiring him to take lackluster action to try and track her down.

It’s only after taking a job at Carbonec, Inc. does Maurice spring (stubble) into action. He manages to rescue Theo’s brother, Max, who fills him in about his destiny with usable detail. While the first third of the book meanders a lot as Maurice tries to figure out what he’s supposed to do and how he’s supposed to do it, things pick up rapidly after Max shows Maurice how to travel by doughnut (go with it) to other universes. When It’s a Jar ends with some highly entertaining revelations about the multiverse Theo created.

I always have a good time reading Tom Holt’s books. They’re full of chortle-worthy word play and jokes, references to all kinds of literatures and myths, and a willingness to play around with all the rules. When It’s a Jar is not quite as coherent as Doughnut was, so you may have to read slowly to understand all the twists and turns of Maurice’s journey. If you like your fiction on the wacky side, though, When It’s a Jar is well worth your time.

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